Nu Strut & Grant Bloom’s mellow, yet funky ‘West Roxbury’ EP is an ode to nostalgia, gratitude, and old friendship [INTERVIEW]
Picture this: The long workday is coming to an end, it’s time to take the dog for a walk, and it’s springtime at sunset. You put in your earbuds, leash up your best friend, and Nu Strut and Grant Bloom‘s new joint concept EP, West Roxbury, comes up on the music feed. The sky shows hues of yellow-orange, with tinges of blue and purple coming over the horizon, and the music that follows effortlessly puts you into this feeling that “life is good” and you find yourself expressing your smallest of gratitudes: air in the lungs, the gift of breath, seasonal change, life’s simple things. You’ve got everything you need and, in this moment, you are completely happy and content.
That’s the feeling that the three-track EP instills in its listeners on this short ride and the only regret is that the journey isn’t longer. Friends since childhood, Dallas’ Nu Strut and Boston-transplant Grant Bloom say the project is rooted in feelings of nostalgia, gratitude, and old friendship. “Being able to express that artistically, to me, is a really special experience,” says Bloom about the creative experience. “You’ve been through ups and downs together, but there is so much meaning and fulfillment in being able to see each other grow.”
CE was able to catch up with the two artists on the making of their West Roxbury EP, which they both tell us was written around Labor Day, which was what heavily influenced the project’s “mellow yet funky vibe.” The EP was recorded in Bloom’s home studio in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, which Bloom says was the product of Nu Strut coming to visit him in Boston from their original stomping grounds in Texas. Up to this point, they had been making music together for 15 years, so the project was a natural move.
“I was feeling a lot of gratitude at being able to spend a lot of time with someone who has been one of my closest friends for half my life… The weather in Boston at the time was reminiscent of our life growing up together in DFW—that is to say, hot and humid. And I think that that lent a feeling of familiarity to our time together in a new environment. Nostalgia is such a powerful emotion and I was feeling a lot of that when we were hanging out and making these tunes.”– Grant Bloom
From the title track, “West Roxbury,” with its balance between vibey key melodies and soulful guitar chords, to the catchy bass-led arrangements and lo-fi crackles on the outro track, “Meloncholy,” the entire EP flows from one track to another as one giant jam session. Nu Strut reveals of the EP: “All three tracks came together as three separate Ideas, but they evolved so naturally into one another, that it just felt right to make it into an EP.” He continues,
Above all else, the sense of authenticity on the three-tracker is what makes it glisten with artistry, flow, and intentionality. At the same time, the two artists were able to bring together their somewhat divergent styles and backgrounds to create something that feels really good. Softly soulful and magically effortless, West Roxbury is proof that when two people know each other deeply, they can come together for a masterful musical project. Listen below and be sure to read the full interview with the pair.
Nu Strut – West Roxbury EP ft. Grant Bloom
CE: First of all, this entire EP flows from one track to another as one giant jam sesh; was that intentional from inception or was that a happy accident that materialized as you and Grant composed this EP?
Grant Bloom: All three tracks came together as three separate Ideas, but they evolved so naturally into one another, that it just felt right to make it into an EP. Each tune started with a keys riff or humming an idea that Brent (Nu Strut) and I found catchy, and then I would record different ideas over the keys with some bass and lead parts on guitar.
Nu Strut: Then I took the layers that he recorded, picked the takes and ideas that I thought were best, and I arranged them into full tracks by carving out a dynamic flow through each tune
that allowed us to connect each of the songs together seamlessly.
CE: There are some serious east-coast funkadelic vibes to this track, which influence(s) paved the way for this EP’s sound and atmosphere?
Nu Strut: No artists specifically influenced the EP, but one of our biggest influences was just the instruments that Grant had in his home studio in West Roxbury, Massachusetts where we wrote these tracks (hence the name). This EP heavily features Grant’s vintage late ‘60s early ‘70s Musitronix Wurlitzer. At the time, Grant had just picked it up and was feeling incredibly inspired by its sound, which I think definitely comes out in the record. We actually recorded the first track on Labor Day, which I think lent to the relaxed nature of the record.
Grant Bloom: Another big inspiration was the way that we were able to bring together our somewhat divergent styles and backgrounds, and create something that felt really good. Most of the production I do revolves around recording analog, live instrumentation, whereas Nu Strut’s production style is based more around sampling and designing sounds synthetically in a
DAW. I think the mellow yet funky vibe is a reflection of how we have been making music together for almost 15 years. We know what styles we both like, and we are close enough where ego isn’t a major factor in creative decisions.
CE: There’s a lot of expectation from EDM fans to hear something headbang-worthy, however, this EP brings out so much class and character that it makes us want to put on some sunglasses and sip on something cool. The EP’s lofi-meets-jazz-meets-smoking-a-spliff-on-a-hot-spring-shower-kind-of-day feel took us for such an enjoyable and mellow ride that’s generally unheard of by upcoming EDM artists. Did you and Grant have any reservations about how audiences would receive this EP given the previous tracks released by the Nu Strut project?
Nu Strut: Not really. My sound is by design extremely diverse and incorporates multiple genres/elements of both live and electronic music. While I knew that this EP might not be some people’s cup of tea, the Nu Strut project represents more of a feeling you get with music, rather than a specific genre or sound. So far, I think my followers have been really responding to that, and I think I have laid a foundation that will allow me to explore and evolve through multiple genres of music with my fans’ support throughout my musical journey.
CE: There’s a lot of emotion and beauty in the piano melody of “Melancholy.” What experience(s) were you both reminiscing about when making this track?
Grant Bloom: This EP was recorded when Brent came up from Dallas to visit me in the Boston area. I was feeling a lot of gratitude at being able to spend a lot of time with someone who has been one of my closest friends for half my life. To me, that song has a bit of that feeling of an old friendship. You’ve been through ups and downs together, but there is so much meaning and fulfillment in being able to see each other grow. Being able to express that artistically, to me, is a really special experience. The weather in Boston at the time was reminiscent of our life growing up together in DFW—that is to say, hot and humid. And I think that that lent a feeling of familiarity to our time together in a new environment. Nostalgia is such a powerful emotion and I was feeling a lot of that when we were hanging out and making these tunes.
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